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Old 10-22-2010, 03:05 PM   #15
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I live in a neighbourhood that bears are frequently seen. I do not fear them at all. Here in NA you have a better chance of being hit by lighting or a car then being attached by a black bear. My experience with camping on islands with wolfs is pretty well the same, they also are not by nature wanting to be around people either. Practise safe camping with both wolfs and bears – ie hang your food in trees far from the tent and don’t sleep in clothing you have cooked in and they will leave you alone. For them to do otherwise is very rare.

Cougars on the other hand are a totally different story. They are amazing animals to see but I know all to well that the odds of a close encounter going all to wrong are very high. As result I will be happy if I never see another cougar in my life time. Anyone who has spent any time in an area frequented by cougars knows that if it’s in the mood to attach it will attach and there is very little you can do to prevent it or stop it other than to fight back hard. It would be foolish to think that backing away slowly or playing dead is actually going to work with a cougar. Don’t believe me than I suggest you have a good chat with any Forest Ranger who works in cougar areas. Suspect most will tell you that you should be carrying the biggest sharpest knife you own and do not keep it buried in your pack and be willing to fight for your life.

Bottom line is I fear for the safety of anyone who thinks it would be a great experience to see a cougar up close in the wild. I would encourage folks to really educate yourselves on the behaviour of cougars before heading into Cougar country. The biggest problem with cougars is their amazing ability to follow you and not be seen or heard until it is all to late - so if you are lucky enough to see one as some have expressed they wish to then they are most likely already in serious trouble!

A good example of how assertive they can behave happened a couple of summers ago in an area were I grow up when a cougar decided to chase a person riding their bike on the roadway. Lucky for the guy on the bike someone driving a pick up truck saw the cougar as it was just starting to chase the guy on the bike and was able to pulled up along beside the bike so he could jump into the back of the truck. The cougar continued to chase that truck for a number of miles.

here are a few storys that may bring home the reality:
Mountain Lion Attacks from 1991 to 2000
http://www.cougarinfo.org/attacks3.htm
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Old 10-22-2010, 05:34 PM   #16
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Greg, I agree, we are intruding in their habitat and should be respectful.

By your logic those that get attacked are just asking for the attack. Just where did I say any such thing? You are making a presumption.

You arm yourself to go the the corner store and yet you make light of a proven bear repellent. I do arm myself, and as a former LEO yourself, I would think that you, of all people, would know why I would be armed. I don't make light of bear spray, if that's all you have...

I have been a shooter and hunter all my life. Me too.

I had a long career in Law Enforcement and am a very good shot even under stress conditions. I own and am well qualified with hand guns of several different calibers. Ditto.

To advise anyone to arm him or herself with a firearm as bear protection is ill advised.Again, I never said any such thing, I said it makes a good arguement for being armed. If you choose to, or not to, be armed is entirely your own call.

IF you are lucky enough to hit a charging bear in your frightened state you probably won't kill it. Who said I had to kill it, or even shoot it?The noise alone would probably stop him in his tracks and get him to turn tail and run. But I wouldn't hesitate to "drop it" if I had to.

I can guarantee you will piss it off even more and make it more aggressive. Again, who said that shooting it is necessary?

We are in their front yard Greg and should be prepared if ANY wild animal should object. I still prefer my Bear Spray over any of my large caliber handguns. To each his own. I understand that many people dont carry a gun, or may not even like guns, which is their perogative. But for my take on it, I'll take the gun, thank you. You can keep the pepper spray. As a past LEO, you already know that it often has little or no effect on some animals, even of the two-legged variety.
My comments were not meant to inflame anyone, or start a brush fire here about wilderness protection. It really doesn't matter to me if you would want to walk through the forest with a butterfly net...it's your choice. All I was trying to do is make a point that we all have our "personal space". For most humans, its about an arm length or less. When someone invades your personal space, it makes you uncomfortable. Most large, and some not-so-large, animals have a personal space that extends well beyond what we humans deem as "too close for comfort". Again, I refer back to my previous statement, that we often try to apply "human logic" to dealing with wild animals. This has been shown time and again to be bad decision making on the part of the humans involved.
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Old 10-22-2010, 07:06 PM   #17
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"It reminds me of the joke about the lady that called the sheriff to report a bear in her back yard. The sheriff said that it was interesting, since he just got a call from the bear who said that somebody built a house in his front yard."

If you call to report a bear in your yard in my neighbourhood (which is by the way in a city) they will send someone out but it will not be to deal with the bear it will be to check to see what you are doing to attract the bear. If they find you have your garbage outside on any day other than pick up day you will be fined. Same goes for leaving fruit on the ground that may have fallen off your trees.

We love our bears and are happy that we don't shoot them but instead fine the people who are the problem.
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Old 10-22-2010, 09:53 PM   #18
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Bryon, I think a lady that lives about 5 miles from me would disagree with you. She spent 3 months in a hospital from an unprovoked bear attack.
She was walking her dog near her home on a dirt road that she had walked for 5 years.
There are very few who spend more time hiking or riding in the forest than I do.
I think you mistake for a heightened respect.
There are bear sightings in my area where bears have never been reported before. The Ranger who works the area I enjoy told me there are more bears now than he has seen in his 24 years working for the FS.
Bears seem to be losing their fear of humans.
In all my years of hiking and riding in the forest I have never felt the need to carry bear spray until this year.
I have no fear of anything in the forest. But I say again, I think it's foolish to hike in the forest without bear spray, at least where I live.

The key point here is "DOG".
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Old 10-22-2010, 09:59 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Carol H View Post
I live in a neighbourhood that bears are frequently seen. I do not fear them at all. Here in NA you have a better chance of being hit by lighting or a car then being attached by a black bear. My experience with camping on islands with wolfs is pretty well the same, they also are not by nature wanting to be around people either. Practise safe camping with both wolfs and bears Ė ie hang your food in trees far from the tent and donít sleep in clothing you have cooked in and they will leave you alone. For them to do otherwise is very rare.

Cougars on the other hand are a totally different story. They are amazing animals to see but I know all to well that the odds of a close encounter going all to wrong are very high. As result I will be happy if I never see another cougar in my life time. Anyone who has spent any time in an area frequented by cougars knows that if itís in the mood to attach it will attach and there is very little you can do to prevent it or stop it other than to fight back hard. It would be foolish to think that backing away slowly or playing dead is actually going to work with a cougar. Donít believe me than I suggest you have a good chat with any Forest Ranger who works in cougar areas. Suspect most will tell you that you should be carrying the biggest sharpest knife you own and do not keep it buried in your pack and be willing to fight for your life.

Bottom line is I fear for the safety of anyone who thinks it would be a great experience to see a cougar up close in the wild. I would encourage folks to really educate yourselves on the behaviour of cougars before heading into Cougar country. The biggest problem with cougars is their amazing ability to follow you and not be seen or heard until it is all to late - so if you are lucky enough to see one as some have expressed they wish to then they are most likely already in serious trouble!

A good example of how assertive they can behave happened a couple of summers ago in an area were I grow up when a cougar decided to chase a person riding their bike on the roadway. Lucky for the guy on the bike someone driving a pick up truck saw the cougar as it was just starting to chase the guy on the bike and was able to pulled up along beside the bike so he could jump into the back of the truck. The cougar continued to chase that truck for a number of miles.

here are a few storys that may bring home the reality:
Mountain Lion Attacks from 1991 to 2000
http://www.cougarinfo.org/attacks3.htm
If you've been out walking in the woods much there's a very good chance a cougar have watched you.
Guy on bike, flight triggers chase reflex, equates to running away from.
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Old 10-23-2010, 03:18 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
If you've been out walking in the woods much there's a very good chance a cougar have watched you.
Guy on bike, flight triggers chase reflex, equates to running away from.
Yup there is always a good explanation for it but can you honestly tell me that if you were riding your bike down a main highway one summer day that you would for a minute think you where doing something that would make you responsible for triggering a cougar attach? LOL Not even people who live in areas known to have cougars would in that situation. Trust me I know I lived in such an area for a better part of my life.

Yup no doudt that when walking in the woods they have seen me, just as I have seen them. Also times that I have not seen them at all but they probable did see me. I'm not suggesting that they will attach anyone they see but that is what makes them unpredictable. It may surprise you but not so long ago many experts where starting to tell people you had a better chance if you where to run away from the cougar - that advise was based on actual stats at the time. What does that do for your "flight triggers chase reflex" theory? Currently they are all back to saying your better off to stand your ground and fight back. But the reality is that the odds to either approach are a lot closer to 50/50 than many of us would like to think. The reason for that is that Cougar's are unpredictable.

As such it doesn't matter how aware you are of your surroundings or how much respect you have for wild animals and how much you try to avoid direct contact and how aware of animal natural instincts you are, all beats are off when it comes to cougars.

To give you an idea as to how unpredictable they can be hereís what happened to me one night. I drove into my parents drive way to find a cougar sitting on the front steps. Just as I realized what it was it started to approach the car so I flashed my lights at it and honked the horn hoping it would run off. Most other wildlife such as bears, deer or wolf in the same situation would have run away. It did not, it continued to come towards the car. I decided I had better get the heck out of there as I was driving a very small car with a fabric top - unfortunately there was no room to turn around in the driveway at the time, so the only option was to back up a long narrow and steep driveway of about a half mile or so long. I did that very slowly as I was afraid of going over the cliff on one side. That cougar followed the car all the way up the road until I got to a spot wide enough to turn around and get the heck out of there - no it wasn't running but it did not have to as I wasn't backing up that fast. Don't know but perhaps it did run and chase once I turned around - to dark to tell. It was not acting scared it was acting aggressive. I sure the heck was scared though. I know if it decided to jump up onto the car and take a swipe at the top with its claws it would be in the car in a split second. I also know if I went over the bank there was a good chance it would have been the first one to my rescue. LOL You might explain that all away with the "flight triggers chase reflex" theory but I don't. There was no flight - it started the approach before I honked the horn or started backing up. There was no food on the property that it was protecting. It had no cubs on the property that it was protecting. It was not boxed in so it could have just turn and head off in another direction. I don't know about you but I call that unpredictable and have a hard time coming up with a reasonable theory as to why a wild animal would act in that fashion. Funny enough a farmer a few miles from us lost a large number of his sheep to a cougar that night. He had lost sheep in the past but never more than two on any given night. Pretty sure I know what cougar it was that did that.

Bottom line is that over the years living on the Vancouver Island I have heard of some pretty crazy/scary situations happen when people least expect them. Yup they are amazing animals to look at but if I see one and it does not matter how far away it may be or how long of zoom I have on my camera you will not find me sitting around taking pictures. I know all to well there is no one that can say what a Cougars next move might be regardless of what the theory book says. Oh did I mention they can run pretty darn fast! LOL

Now if you want to go catch some photos of bears or wolfs count me in!
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Old 10-23-2010, 11:28 AM   #21
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I would just change the thread title to read "Wildness is sometimes unpredictable, and very occasionally with tragic consequences." I mean, this is very nearly a "freak" story.

I've spent a lot of time in the woods, and I understand that occasionally animals will act in a way that seems unpredictable to humans; but I don't see it being "often" with tragic consequences. Somehow, to me, that makes it sound much more likely and menacing that it really is in my experience.

The majority of time, when you hear of an animal/human interaction that turned out badly for the human, it does have a predicable cause. i.e. camping with food not hung or otherwise stowed properly; separating an animal from its young; taunting, feeding, or otherwise inappropriately engaging animals; running into them with motor vehicles; walking too quietly through their habitat and surprising them, etc.
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Old 10-23-2010, 09:32 PM   #22
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Raya, you and others are correct. My point is why not be prepared? The odds of an attack are much greater for those that spend a great deal of time in the forests.
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Old 10-23-2010, 10:17 PM   #23
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Hi Perry,

I didn't mean to imply that one should not be prepared; I agree that it's wise to be prepared. I was more responding to the thread title, which I thought was misleading.

I have carried bear spray in certain areas, and I make noise on certain trails so as not to surprise "anyone." I also hang my food when camping and/or use bear boxes if provided. I try to stay alert.

All that said, I tend to worry about people much more! If I'm thinking of boondocking in my trailer, it's not animals that make me have second thoughts (sadly).

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Old 10-23-2010, 10:45 PM   #24
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I did not mean to imply anything with the title of the post, it is just what I wrote in the moment. I am fully aware that animal encounters such as Bob's are the exception, not the rule. I will say that 'unpredictable' behavior in animals can have tragic outcomes.

Carol your experience was very scary! I know how I felt when I encountered the cougar in the woods right behind our house, I felt very vulnerable, actually I barely felt or thought anything, I just walked forward, hoping he was not waiting for me. Afterwards I had all sorts of feelings! Shock mostly! I too would be happy not to see another cougar, at least not that close, and preferably when I'm in a car, but not one like yours! (my first cougar sighting was one leaping across a road in front of my car)

This topic has become very 'hot', I only wanted to share the sadness and tragedy of Bob's death as a reminder to us all not to take Nature for granted. I am sure most folks on this forum do not.

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Old 10-23-2010, 11:28 PM   #25
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Hi Penney,

Okay, thanks for clarifying. It was the "often" in the title that made me want to reply. I think the thread title can set the tone for the post (since it's the first thing you read before you click, and it tells you what the post is going to be about). Maybe that's one reason it became a bit "warm."

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Old 10-24-2010, 11:36 AM   #26
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Sorry if my post seemed hot. It *really* wasn't meant to be. I was just concerned that people are wanted to see some of these animals in the wild but that they may not be aware that some of the animals may not be as predictable as the wilderness books say.

Penney I feel your fear! LOL I have other first hand knowledge of much worse situations - one of them only ended well due to a quick thinking neighbour will a real good aim with an axe but in that case the animal was being predictable.

Raya I agree the post heading may be a bit misleading.
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Old 10-24-2010, 06:16 PM   #27
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Just a quick, non-judgmental thought here about handguns, rifles and what they're good for.

Interestingly, Lynne and I had a discussion about handguns and rifles while camping recently. She was curious what I thought of her having a gun when she was out camping on her own. Just to be clear, I have owned guns in the past and expect I will own them again in the future now there are no children in the house. I am neither a handgun opponent or proponent, but I am pragmatic about what a gun, as a tool, is and is not good for.

As a form of protection, a handgun's chief advantage is it's very portable. That said, handguns are not all that good at protecting you from close-quarter encounters with large wildlife. They simply don't have enough stopping power to drop an animal at close quarters before it can do big damage to you.

An animal charging at you has already committed itself to performing some sort of dominance display, defensive act, or predatory act. Like a human with surging adrenalin, an animal in this state of mind is already braced to potentially feel pain, and is less sensitive to it. Shooting an animal in this state of mind at close range will not stop it in its tracks, and may actually do more to piss it off and increase its level of aggression. (See Cornered Cat - A long gun for home defense.)

Second, the local authorities may not take kindly to your shooting a park animal, and may come to a very different point of view about the threat you were under than the one you may have had as you discharged your weapon.

When an animal has committed itself to aggression, what you need is something that overwhelms something other than its traditional pain pathways, attack other senses that compromise its ability to be aggressive. This is what pepper spray/mace/bear spray do. They go after the eyes and sense of smell and change the mindset of the animal in a way that ordinary pain can not.

A good can of Bear Spray will repel most any animal -- bear, elk, ram, cat, dog, human -- and does not require that you both regularly train with and maintain a gun.
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Old 10-24-2010, 09:24 PM   #28
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Smile Man vs animal

I see several aspects to this man vs animal discussion.

1. There are more people than there were. More people means more parks, more people on trails and more chance for man/animal contact.

2. People are more outdoor oriented. Along with more people, more of the people are attracted to the outdoors again increasing m/a contact.

3. Along with more people, there are more animals. Despite what certain animal rights groups say, there are more deer in the US now than when the pilgrims landed. This is because there are less predators and more open areas that grow the type of browse that deer eat.

4. Animals are less afraid of people. In the last several years hunting has been curtailed in large measure. Witness the ban on using dogs to hunt bear in Washington State. Therefore, animals have less run-ins with hunters, persons able to defend themselves, and are less likely to have experienced having been shot at by those strange looking two legged creatures. This is also contributing to a rise in the number of predatory animals, bears, cougars, etc.

5. Along with this, people have less real notions of what wild animals are about. They suffer from the "Disney syndrome" where all animals are 'cute' and not to be feared. I remember watching in horror in Yellowstone NP as a woman, with a toddler in tow, chased after a cow moose with a calf. I suppose she wanted to get a picture of her child with the 'cute animals.' Luckily for her, the moose and her calf just moved on.

6. More people take their dogs walking. Dogs like to chase things like squirrels, cats and rabbits. Bears and cougars are not like these. The dog may try to chase them but when they don't run and reverse the roles becoming the chaser, the dog returns to you for protection, with the critter they stirred up following close behind.

7. There is a reason our ancestors eliminated so many of the large predators on this continent, it is because they are large predators and to them we, and our domestic animals, are lunch.
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